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Falcons blanked by Cards

CANFIELD — Earlier this season, Canfield coach Phil Simone said the Canfield Cardinals’ girls soccer program was in a bit of a rebuilding mode.

A slow start and some injuries might have hampered one of the premier programs in the area.

After Canfield’s 1-0 victory over the Austintown Fitch Falcons on Wednesday and players coming back from injury, it was only appropriate that Aerosmith’s “Back in the Saddle” rumbled throughout Bob Dove Field.

“Right now, we’re working back from that,” Simone said. “We think next week we’ll be closer to full strength. The younger girls coming off the bench all played a part in us being where we’re at. Looking at all the injuries, to be where we are, we’re very proud of that.”

The Cardinals are 9-2-2 after starting the season off 1-2. The Falcons (4-6-2) suffered their first loss after winning four of their last five with a tie on Monday night.

“I think both teams came to play,” Fitch coach Samantha Marscio said. “It was a great battle between both sides.”

By ERIC FORTUNE

Both teams had their chances in the first half, but some off target shots and good play from goalkeepers Kristen Klaus and Bayann Jadallah kept it a scoreless game.

“Locally, everyone on our schedule we have concerns about,” Simone said. “We knew it wouldn’t be an easy game despite their record. They’re gritty. They work hard. We just knew it wasn’t going to be an easy game.”

Fitch and Canfield had corner kick opportunities go just awry, while Canfield’s Alli Malinky had two kicks close to hitting the back of the net in a wild first half of play.

Simone felt it was a bit frantic. He and his team had to talk about it at halftime.

“We felt we were forcing,” he said. “We asked, can we possess a little bit more and slow the game down? We wanted to work it like we can to find some space instead of just hitting it up front and looking for a through ball all the time.”

The Cardinals switched to keeping possession and lived on the Falcons’ side of the field most of the second half. Canfield started checking back and played the ball side to side, becoming more patient.

“Canfield has always been great at keeping that possession and moving off the ball,” Marscio said. “They really showed what they could do in that second half. We just couldn’t really control any of that center.”

It remained scoreless after Canfield’s Morgan Carey’s direct kick was just left of the net at the 31:16 mark. About 2 minutes later, teammate Marissa Leraci had a kick go right of the goal.

“You can always bounce back,” Carey said. “There’s always going to be more chances. You just have to take advantage of them.”

She would.

Carey dribbled through multiple Falcon players to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead with 27:51 remaining.

“Coach (John) Madeline told us to possess a little more so we were trying to build up a little bit more,” Carey said. “I just saw an opening and I knew we needed to make something happen. I just thought I’d take charge and make something happen.

“She received the ball and she pretty much had it in her mind she was going to get the goal,” Simone said. “She just hit a solid shot on goal. It was fun to watch that.”

The Cardinals held the Falcons to zero shots on goal after getting outshot 4-2 in the first half. Canfield finished with eight shots on goal.

“The first half was a bit chaotic,” Carey said. “We were just playing kickball. We just really tried to possess more in the second half. I think that led to us having a lot more chances. We had a lot more combination play. I think we just looked better in the second half.”

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